[Frustrated with Vanguard advisory service] Procedures on Death of a Spouse

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eucalyptus
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[Frustrated with Vanguard advisory service] Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by eucalyptus » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:35 pm

My parents, longtime Flagship clients, began using Vanguard's advisory service after my father became unable to manage their finances. My father, an engineer with a deep background in math, was a meticulous investor who Monte Carloed (and whatever else you do) with the best of you and wanted only one thing: that his wife would be financially secure when he was gone.

My father passed away August 28.

My mother called her advisor to tell him the news and ask what to do with my father's IRAs, both of which name her as sole beneficiary. She was told that they would be frozen and their disposition handled by a transition team.

Today, my mother discovered that her advisor was no longer her advisor, even with respect to her formerly joint accounts. Not only that, but she would be treated as a new customer of the advisory service and have to go through the process of selecting a new advisor. Her old advisor told her something like, "I don't know if you want to work with me again ...."

I have trouble understanding the cruelty and perversity of taking away a mid-80s client's advisor one week after the death of husband of 65 years. Now is precisely when she most needs professional help from a familiar advisor, and Vanguard has taken it away from her. She was in tears when I last spoke to her.

I will be calling Vanguard tomorrow in the hope of learning that my mother is mistaken, and they do not in fact treat elderly, grieving clients disgracefully. Perhaps someone - so many here seem to think Vanguard can do no wrong, blah blah blah - can give me a reason (one that does not provide legal CYA as an excuse) for why Vanguard would do this.

Jags4186
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Jags4186 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:38 pm

eucalyptus wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:35 pm
Perhaps someone - so many here seem to think Vanguard can do no wrong, blah blah blah - can give me a reason (one that does not provide legal CYA as an excuse) for why Vanguard would do this.
Actually, I think the general consensus here is that Vanguard is a pretty poor custodian. They are however a pretty good mutual fund company.

Sorry for your loss.

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LilyFleur
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by LilyFleur » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:42 pm

That is horrible. I feel for your mother.

Your paragraph about the advisor doesn't quite sound right. Why would her regular advisor make that last statement to her if it wasn't an option for her to stay with her? You may want to be with your mother when she makes these kinds of calls to make sure that she is communicating well and saying what she means. Grief can have a temporary effect on cognitive function.

Wow, your father died only about two weeks ago. Does your mom even have the death certificates yet to give to all of the accounts that were held jointly? Death certificates will eventually need to be presented to everything that was in his name only or in their names together (i.e., electrical bills, cell phone bills, etc.) If she has enough cash to pay the bills now, maybe take it easy on completing these financial transitions. It can take at least a year to get all the financial services in her name.

I am so sorry for your loss. Your mother will need you much more than she has in the past.
Last edited by LilyFleur on Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:00 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Prokofiev » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:44 pm

I believe Vanguard has a special group to handle account transfers and estate issues. When my father died, we had a knowledgeable VG transfer agent to help us go thru the process. They will not give tax advice except in the broadest terms, but they were very helpful doing the consolidation and transfer of assets, including many outside held assets into my mothers account.

You can and should help your mother understand the process by calling VG together. She will need to give permission for you to participate. In fact, giving you complete rights to access her account and make changes would be very helpful.
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Big Dog
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Big Dog » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:50 pm

also, sorry for your loss.

fwiw: when my mom passed two years ago, all of her stuff was handled by Transition Team, and the TT Rep was great. Once the death cert was presented, they split the accounts (between the sibs) and transferred my share, with correct cost basis, into my brokerage account (also long time Flag customer). Once the funds were tranferred, my Flag rep could see them and act upon them.

Just guessing here, but the Transition Team goes thru the complexities of wills/trusts, community property, joint tenants, multiple beneficiaries, etc. Much more complex than just advising on investments.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by smectym » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:51 pm

eucalyptus wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:35 pm
My parents, longtime Flagship clients, began using Vanguard's advisory service after my father became unable to manage their finances. My father, an engineer with a deep background in math, was a meticulous investor who Monte Carloed (and whatever else you do) with the best of you and wanted only one thing: that his wife would be financially secure when he was gone.

My father passed away August 28.

My mother called her advisor to tell him the news and ask what to do with my father's IRAs, both of which name her as sole beneficiary. She was told that they would be frozen and their disposition handled by a transition team.

Today, my mother discovered that her advisor was no longer her advisor, even with respect to her formerly joint accounts. Not only that, but she would be treated as a new customer of the advisory service and have to go through the process of selecting a new advisor. Her old advisor told her something like, "I don't know if you want to work with me again ...."

I have trouble understanding the cruelty and perversity of taking away a mid-80s client's advisor one week after the death of husband of 65 years. Now is precisely when she most needs professional help from a familiar advisor, and Vanguard has taken it away from her. She was in tears when I last spoke to her.

I will be calling Vanguard tomorrow in the hope of learning that my mother is mistaken, and they do not in fact treat elderly, grieving clients disgracefully. Perhaps someone - so many here seem to think Vanguard can do no wrong, blah blah blah - can give me a reason (one that does not provide legal CYA as an excuse) for why Vanguard would do this.
eucalyptus, with sincere condolences for your father's passing, please keep the forum apprised. The information that an account clearly naming a sole beneficiary "would be frozen" is interesting, since the general advice given to investors is that beneficiary designations facilitate the seamless transition of assets to the named beneficiary while avoiding probate or even the need to consult a will. Frozen for how long, and why? And is the freezing of the account connected somehow to the fact your parents were participants in the VPAS? Perhaps another reason to steer clear.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:54 pm

Eucalyptus, I’m sorry for your loss.

When my Dad died several years ago, Vanguard’s transition team was friendly but under-staffed: Each step of their process took significantly longer than they said it would. It took several months for me the named POD/TOD beneficiaries to secure access to the assets they inherited.

My Flagship representative was not particularly friendly and was underwhelming overall. I ended up closing my decades-old Vanguard account and moved everything to my Fidelity account — I’ve received excellent service from them for decades.

Andy.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by usagi » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:00 pm

I am very sorry for your loss, I truly am.

This is shameful. In general with POD all you need to do is present a valid certificate and the funds are yours.

Vanguard has been customer service challenged for some time. Regretfully it appears to be part of their endemic culture.

When the money is freed up (assuming no taxable events)I would suggest moving to Schwab, FIdelity, or some other firm (perhaps with a local office). However I always have one caveat, write an IPS and have it notarized on the other end by the receiving firm.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by LilyFleur » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:07 pm

smectym wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:51 pm
eucalyptus wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:35 pm
My parents, longtime Flagship clients, began using Vanguard's advisory service after my father became unable to manage their finances. My father, an engineer with a deep background in math, was a meticulous investor who Monte Carloed (and whatever else you do) with the best of you and wanted only one thing: that his wife would be financially secure when he was gone.

My father passed away August 28.

My mother called her advisor to tell him the news and ask what to do with my father's IRAs, both of which name her as sole beneficiary. She was told that they would be frozen and their disposition handled by a transition team.

Today, my mother discovered that her advisor was no longer her advisor, even with respect to her formerly joint accounts. Not only that, but she would be treated as a new customer of the advisory service and have to go through the process of selecting a new advisor. Her old advisor told her something like, "I don't know if you want to work with me again ...."

I have trouble understanding the cruelty and perversity of taking away a mid-80s client's advisor one week after the death of husband of 65 years. Now is precisely when she most needs professional help from a familiar advisor, and Vanguard has taken it away from her. She was in tears when I last spoke to her.

I will be calling Vanguard tomorrow in the hope of learning that my mother is mistaken, and they do not in fact treat elderly, grieving clients disgracefully. Perhaps someone - so many here seem to think Vanguard can do no wrong, blah blah blah - can give me a reason (one that does not provide legal CYA as an excuse) for why Vanguard would do this.
eucalyptus, with sincere condolences for your father's passing, please keep the forum apprised. The information that an account clearly naming a sole beneficiary "would be frozen" is interesting, since the general advice given to investors is that beneficiary designations facilitate the seamless transition of assets to the named beneficiary while avoiding probate or even the need to consult a will. Frozen for how long, and why? And is the freezing of the account connected somehow to the fact your parents were participants in the VPAS? Perhaps another reason to steer clear.
Every financial institution will need to see a death certificate before giving an account to a beneficiary. OPs father died on August 28, I think. It takes a week or two to get the death certificates. The funeral home handled it for me and my siblings. They asked how many we would need. Getting death certificates is the first thing that has to happen when settling an estate. OP, you may want to handle that part for your mother as it is likely to be upsetting for her.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Big Dog » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:29 pm

The information that an account clearly naming a sole beneficiary "would be frozen" is interesting,
Accounts are 'frozen' at every bank and brokerage account until a certified death cert is submitted. (It took 6+ weeks to obtain a certified death cert in my mom's California county.) Once I submitted the death cert, Vanguard transferred the account funds in 3-4 days, if I recall.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by dbr » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:34 pm

smectym wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:51 pm

eucalyptus, with sincere condolences for your father's passing, please keep the forum apprised. The information that an account clearly naming a sole beneficiary "would be frozen" is interesting, since the general advice given to investors is that beneficiary designations facilitate the seamless transition of assets to the named beneficiary while avoiding probate or even the need to consult a will. Frozen for how long, and why? And is the freezing of the account connected somehow to the fact your parents were participants in the VPAS? Perhaps another reason to steer clear.
Seemless and avoiding probate and not looking at a will does not mean instant or without procedure. The account is frozen so that no hanky-panky can be peformed by someone until the financial institution has the documentation they need to process the transfer. There is going to have to be a death certificate provided at the very least. On the occasions when my parents passed on we obtained 40 certified copies of death certificates and used about half of them by the time we were done. In neither case was there a probated estate due to trusts and POD accounts.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by nix4me » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:34 pm

Vanguard will refuse to even speak with you. Not on the account they will verbally tell you they will not speak with you. I tried to help clarify a problem when setting up my 18 year old daughter's brokerage account and the guy told me that he would not talk to me and to take him off speaker so he could speak to her alone.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by RickBoglehead » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:35 pm

Totally normal to freeze accounts upon learning of the death of an owner(s). I have worked with Vanguard's transition reps twice now, and it takes a week or two for the funds to be transfered.

I don't know what institutions LilyFleur has worked with, but a year is ridiculous. Days, if not weeks, once a death certificate is received.

On joint accounts, transfer funds that you need in the next few weeks before telling them of a death. Doing that on a non-joint account is not advisable.

OP should get Agent Authorization on Mom's accounts ASAP.

Also, in my experience, the elderly often misunderstand, especially in times of stress.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by dbr » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:38 pm

Also don't forget that power of attorney expires on death of the principal. If there is a will with an executor that has to be processed. In the case of estates that are small enough to pass beneath probate any personal representative still needs to establish his credentials by affidavit. If there is a trust with a trustee, then that person has to proceed accordingly.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by frugaltigris » Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:47 pm

OP, I am very sorry to hear about your loss.

I am shocked by this response from Vanguard. I have accounts at Fidelity and Vanguard and have been thinking to move taxable portion to Vanguard to make things easier for my wife in our joint account. (She prefers MF rather than ETFs). Your description of VG affairs gives me a serious reason to rethink about this. I am wondering, what is point of of tax efficiency when our heirs are going to suffer like this?

Having best mutual funds is no excuse for being one of the worst in customer service.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by goodenyou » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:11 pm

Sorry to hear about your loss. Vanguard is very very careful to a fault. As soon as there are any changes, Vanguard goes into a seizure until they can make doubly sure that all ducks are in a row with asset transfers. This can create a lot of despair especially in times of grieving. There are a lot of customer service improvements to be made at Vanguard. They need to realize that low cost investing is just one important facet of wealth management.
You are well advised to help your elderly mother through the process. Maybe consult an Elder Law Attorney.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Eagle33 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:43 pm

Sorry for your loss.

A couple VG links:
Inheriting a VG account different phone number to call 877-445-8798
Checklists for inheriting Vanguard accounts
Last edited by Eagle33 on Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:02 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by FireHorse » Tue Sep 10, 2019 9:45 pm

Wow, it certainly makes you rethink of Vanguard in a very different way

So sorry for your loss and hope you can help your mom get through this

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by wanderer » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:17 pm

Very sorry for your loss.

I am not a VG customer anymore, but can confirm that ML, EJ, and Fido all freeze the accounts and refer folks to a ‘transition’ team.
My mom went through that when my dad passed using ML and EJ. Same with Fidelity when my mom passed.

The accounts are frozen until certificate of death is presented and the legal process is worked through by the firm’s approved personnel. This is to protect the account owner and that is the firm’s legal responsibility. Depending on the firm’s processes this may mean the same account is retitled, or assets moved to new accounts. Likely the latter.

So, while I cannot speak to the way your mom was treated, or how it was explained, I believe the basic facts of the process were presented.

Perhaps you can call the VG rep and/or a VG rep in the transition team to understand the steps VG uses so as to best help your mom.

I feel for your loss, and especially your mom.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by abuss368 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:19 pm

Sorry for your loss. God bless you and your family.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by abuss368 » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:19 pm

It appears that Vanguard is having a lot of client service issues.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by smectym » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:20 pm

Big Dog wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:29 pm
The information that an account clearly naming a sole beneficiary "would be frozen" is interesting,
Accounts are 'frozen' at every bank and brokerage account until a certified death cert is submitted. (It took 6+ weeks to obtain a certified death cert in my mom's California county.) Once I submitted the death cert, Vanguard transferred the account funds in 3-4 days, if I recall.
Thanks, I’m aware of the death certificate requirement. OP did not state that no death certificate had been submitted, nor did OP state that “Vanguard says the account will be frozen pending the submission of a properly certified death certificate.”

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by dodecahedron » Tue Sep 10, 2019 10:35 pm

PhilosophyAndrew wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 5:54 pm
Eucalyptus, I’m sorry for your loss.

When my Dad died several years ago, Vanguard’s transition team was friendly but under-staffed: Each step of their process took significantly longer than they said it would. It took several months for me the named POD/TOD beneficiaries to secure access to the assets they inherited.

My Flagship representative was not particularly friendly and was underwhelming overall. I ended up closing my decades-old Vanguard account and moved everything to my Fidelity account — I’ve received excellent service from them for decades.

Andy.
By contrast, after my late husband´s death, I had a very good transition experience with Vanguard but a dreadful one with Fidelity. However, I have to say that Schwab was the easiest and smoothest of all. Interactive Brokers was terrible. TIAA was mixed. As far as banks go, Ally was pretty good but my local Bank of America (where we had our checking and safe deposit account and where my husband had a business account which had also handled the payroll for the business and where I set up the temporary estate account in my capacity as executor) was awesome.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Prokofiev » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:16 pm

Again, it appears many here are reacting to bad information and making quick judgements.

I went through this process with VG in 2009,2011,2012 and 2016. Each time we were assigned a special representative to guide us through the forms and requirements. Each time we found the VG contact to be very helpful with explaining the process and what was needed to move forward. The timing will take several weeks to several months depending upon the various factors of each special situation:

Do you have a certified death certificate? Was there a trust in place? Does VG have a certified copy of the trust? Who is the executor of the trust or will? Are you expecting VG to consolidate assets from other brokerages or mutual fund companies? You will probably need some documents notarized or possibly the dreaded Medallion signature guarantee. All of this can be a pain, but is there for the clients protection. It is certainly NOT insane. It is standard practice.

If your mother is in her mid-80's and your father was the one who looked after the finances, then she will almost certainly need help in doing these steps. As to needing a new representative, your info is confusing. If the rep asked her if she still wants to use him, that does not square with having to "start over". If they were only VG Flagship, there no longer are any assigned reps. If you are paying for advice, I suspect that person can continue to provide investment advice ,but only after the specialist completes the transfer. Perhaps that is what was meant and she misunderstood?

If you call on her behalf, they may not help you without her consent. Again, this is standard practice. Get together with your mother prior to the phone call. They will ask to speak directly with her alone and ask her for security info - to make certain it is her. Then she will need to agree to allow you to help on her behalf. Then they will probably ask for your security info. It is best to get the VG form that allows you complete account access and the ability to move funds. That will have to be notarized. It all takes time.

Good luck . . .
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by peetsperk » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:35 pm

Prokofiev wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:16 pm
Again, it appears many here are reacting to bad information and making quick judgements.

I went through this process with VG in 2009,2011,2012 and 2016. Each time we were assigned a special representative to guide us through the forms and requirements. Each time we found the VG contact to be very helpful with explaining the process and what was needed to move forward. The timing will take several weeks to several months depending upon the various factors of each special situation:

Do you have a certified death certificate? Was there a trust in place? Does VG have a certified copy of the trust? Who is the executor of the trust or will? Are you expecting VG to consolidate assets from other brokerages or mutual fund companies? You will probably need some documents notarized or possibly the dreaded Medallion signature guarantee. All of this can be a pain, but is there for the clients protection. It is certainly NOT insane. It is standard practice.

If your mother is in her mid-80's and your father was the one who looked after the finances, then she will almost certainly need help in doing these steps. As to needing a new representative, your info is confusing. If the rep asked her if she still wants to use him, that does not square with having to "start over". If they were only VG Flagship, there no longer are any assigned reps. If you are paying for advice, I suspect that person can continue to provide investment advice ,but only after the specialist completes the transfer. Perhaps that is what was meant and she misunderstood?

If you call on her behalf, they may not help you without her consent. Again, this is standard practice. Get together with your mother prior to the phone call. They will ask to speak directly with her alone and ask her for security info - to make certain it is her. Then she will need to agree to allow you to help on her behalf. Then they will probably ask for your security info. It is best to get the VG form that allows you complete account access and the ability to move funds. That will have to be notarized. It all takes time.

Good luck . . .
+1

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by smectym » Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:59 pm

peetsperk wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:35 pm
Prokofiev wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:16 pm
Again, it appears many here are reacting to bad information and making quick judgements.

I went through this process with VG in 2009,2011,2012 and 2016. Each time we were assigned a special representative to guide us through the forms and requirements. Each time we found the VG contact to be very helpful with explaining the process and what was needed to move forward. The timing will take several weeks to several months depending upon the various factors of each special situation:

Do you have a certified death certificate? Was there a trust in place? Does VG have a certified copy of the trust? Who is the executor of the trust or will? Are you expecting VG to consolidate assets from other brokerages or mutual fund companies? You will probably need some documents notarized or possibly the dreaded Medallion signature guarantee. All of this can be a pain, but is there for the clients protection. It is certainly NOT insane. It is standard practice.

If your mother is in her mid-80's and your father was the one who looked after the finances, then she will almost certainly need help in doing these steps. As to needing a new representative, your info is confusing. If the rep asked her if she still wants to use him, that does not square with having to "start over". If they were only VG Flagship, there no longer are any assigned reps. If you are paying for advice, I suspect that person can continue to provide investment advice ,but only after the specialist completes the transfer. Perhaps that is what was meant and she misunderstood?

If you call on her behalf, they may not help you without her consent. Again, this is standard practice. Get together with your mother prior to the phone call. They will ask to speak directly with her alone and ask her for security info - to make certain it is her. Then she will need to agree to allow you to help on her behalf. Then they will probably ask for your security info. It is best to get the VG form that allows you complete account access and the ability to move funds. That will have to be notarized. It all takes time.

Good luck . . .
+1
+1, really? I thought, despite poster’s extensive experience with collecting estates of deceased relations, maybe a bit blind to the concern OP raised. Most longtime Flagship clients, as OP’s parents were/are, already know ALL ABOUT Vanguard’s fussbudget verification procedures, such as their ludicrous voice verification protocol, which are heavy on “security theater.” And its no revelation either that a death certificate in good order is a sine qua non for passing assets from decedent to beneficiaries.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by 3-20Characters » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:23 am

RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:35 pm
Totally normal to freeze accounts upon learning of the death of an owner(s). I have worked with Vanguard's transition reps twice now, and it takes a week or two for the funds to be transfered.

I don't know what institutions LilyFleur has worked with, but a year is ridiculous. Days, if not weeks, once a death certificate is received.

On joint accounts, transfer funds that you need in the next few weeks before telling them of a death. Doing that on a non-joint account is not advisable.
So if husband dies, you’re saying wife should transfer from joint account to an account solely in her name?

OP should get Agent Authorization on Mom's accounts ASAP.

Also, in my experience, the elderly often misunderstand, especially in times of stress.
Rick, I’m curious on this point (see my question above in blue) re, your comment (bolded by me).

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Rob1 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:45 am

eucalyptus, so sorry for your loss.

My dad experienced the same upon the passing of my mom - accounts frozen, unenrolled from Personal Advisory Services, transition team assigned to help. In addition, I was automatically removed as an agent.

Next, the transition team helped settle accounts. Then, we went through the PAS process like a new customer with the option to sign up again.

If you’ll be helping manage things with Vanguard, complete an agent authorization form. Given it’s your mom’s desire, I highly recommend:
1- The “Full Agent Authorization” form (emphasis on full)
2- On the form, check all account types
3- I seem to recall another check box or something to have it apply to any new/future accounts as well

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by smectym » Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:54 am

Rob1 wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:45 am
eucalyptus, so sorry for your loss.

My dad experienced the same upon the passing of my mom - accounts frozen, unenrolled from Personal Advisory Services, transition team assigned to help. In addition, I was automatically removed as an agent.

Next, the transition team helped settle accounts. Then, we went through the PAS process like a new customer with the option to sign up again.

If you’ll be helping manage things with Vanguard, complete an agent authorization form. Given it’s your mom’s desire, I highly recommend:
1- The “Full Agent Authorization” form (emphasis on full)
2- On the form, check all account types
3- I seem to recall another check box or something to have it apply to any new/future accounts as well
Rob1, help us understand, if you can, what Vanguard’s rationale is for “unenrolling” the bereaved spouse from PAS and requiring that person to reapply de novo. It’s a fact that many couples enroll in personal advisory services precisely in order to make things easier for the surviving spouse and to make sure that the survivor has a familiar advisor that they have already established a relationship with at hand. It’s frequently cited as a reason for joining PAS on this forum, the fear being that the spouse who typically “handled the money” may be first to die.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Rob1 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:04 am

smectym wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:54 am
Rob1 wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:45 am
eucalyptus, so sorry for your loss.

My dad experienced the same upon the passing of my mom - accounts frozen, unenrolled from Personal Advisory Services, transition team assigned to help. In addition, I was automatically removed as an agent.

Next, the transition team helped settle accounts. Then, we went through the PAS process like a new customer with the option to sign up again.

If you’ll be helping manage things with Vanguard, complete an agent authorization form. Given it’s your mom’s desire, I highly recommend:
1- The “Full Agent Authorization” form (emphasis on full)
2- On the form, check all account types
3- I seem to recall another check box or something to have it apply to any new/future accounts as well
Rob1, help us understand, if you can, what Vanguard’s rationale is for “unenrolling” the bereaved spouse from PAS and requiring that person to reapply de novo. It’s a fact that many couples enroll in personal advisory services precisely in order to make things easier for the surviving spouse and to make sure that the survivor has a familiar advisor that they have already established a relationship with at hand. It’s frequently cited as a reason for joining PAS on this forum, the fear being that the spouse who typically “handled the money” may be first to die.
Hey smectym, I don’t understand the rationale. It felt like Vanguard was being overly cautious. In a way I was happy to see them being careful, but frankly I was mostly upset (for the reasons you note along with making things more difficult at a difficult time).

On a positive note, my parents’ assigned PAS rep stayed the same, and he did a great job during the transition.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by smectym » Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:45 am

Rob1 wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 1:04 am
smectym wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:54 am
Rob1 wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:45 am
eucalyptus, so sorry for your loss.

My dad experienced the same upon the passing of my mom - accounts frozen, unenrolled from Personal Advisory Services, transition team assigned to help. In addition, I was automatically removed as an agent.

Next, the transition team helped settle accounts. Then, we went through the PAS process like a new customer with the option to sign up again.

If you’ll be helping manage things with Vanguard, complete an agent authorization form. Given it’s your mom’s desire, I highly recommend:
1- The “Full Agent Authorization” form (emphasis on full)
2- On the form, check all account types
3- I seem to recall another check box or something to have it apply to any new/future accounts as well
Rob1, help us understand, if you can, what Vanguard’s rationale is for “unenrolling” the bereaved spouse from PAS and requiring that person to reapply de novo. It’s a fact that many couples enroll in personal advisory services precisely in order to make things easier for the surviving spouse and to make sure that the survivor has a familiar advisor that they have already established a relationship with at hand. It’s frequently cited as a reason for joining PAS on this forum, the fear being that the spouse who typically “handled the money” may be first to die.
Hey smectym, I don’t understand the rationale. It felt like Vanguard was being overly cautious. In a way I was happy to see them being careful, but frankly I was mostly upset (for the reasons you note along with making things more difficult at a difficult time).

On a positive note, my parents’ assigned PAS rep stayed the same, and he did a great job during the transition.
Rob1, thanks—and great that at least the advisor remained the same in your parents’ situation. But OP states that his parents’ advisor bowed out. Leaves one wondering what to expect

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by BarbBrooklyn » Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:23 am

Eucalyptus; I'm so sorry for your very recent loss.

If your mom is in her mid 80s, even if you and everyone else would describe her as "sharp as a tack" please proceed with caution.

My mom was precisely this age when I sat with her during hospital discharge procedures. The nurse explained very clearly that my mom needed to see her PCP as soon as possible after discharge to prevent readmission for the same condition', because new Medicare regs had gone into effect which would result in the hospital not getting paid for readmission within 30 days. It was crystal clear to me.

My mom's eyes filled with tears and she said "you mean I can never come back to this hospital?"

Please give the Vanguard folks a chance to explain what their procedure is. Hugs to your mom.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:15 am

3-20Characters wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 12:23 am
RickBoglehead wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 6:35 pm
Totally normal to freeze accounts upon learning of the death of an owner(s). I have worked with Vanguard's transition reps twice now, and it takes a week or two for the funds to be transfered.

I don't know what institutions LilyFleur has worked with, but a year is ridiculous. Days, if not weeks, once a death certificate is received.

On joint accounts, transfer funds that you need in the next few weeks before telling them of a death. Doing that on a non-joint account is not advisable.
So if husband dies, you’re saying wife should transfer from joint account to an account solely in her name?

OP should get Agent Authorization on Mom's accounts ASAP.

Also, in my experience, the elderly often misunderstand, especially in times of stress.
Rick, I’m curious on this point (see my question above in blue) re, your comment (bolded by me).
No.

I am saying that since joint account will be frozen for a short period. IF surviving spouse will be needing funds for that short period, remove them from the joint account prior to advising Vanguard of the passing, or you will be SOL.

Vanguard does not remove the deceased from a joint account. They move the assets to a new individual account.

My experience was that full agent authorization was established automatically on the new individual account that Vanguard set up.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:21 am

Prokofiev wrote:
Tue Sep 10, 2019 11:16 pm
Again, it appears many here are reacting to bad information and making quick judgements.

I went through this process with VG in 2009,2011,2012 and 2016. Each time we were assigned a special representative to guide us through the forms and requirements. Each time we found the VG contact to be very helpful with explaining the process and what was needed to move forward. The timing will take several weeks to several months depending upon the various factors of each special situation:

Do you have a certified death certificate? Was there a trust in place? Does VG have a certified copy of the trust? Who is the executor of the trust or will? Are you expecting VG to consolidate assets from other brokerages or mutual fund companies? You will probably need some documents notarized or possibly the dreaded Medallion signature guarantee. All of this can be a pain, but is there for the clients protection. It is certainly NOT insane. It is standard practice.

If your mother is in her mid-80's and your father was the one who looked after the finances, then she will almost certainly need help in doing these steps. As to needing a new representative, your info is confusing. If the rep asked her if she still wants to use him, that does not square with having to "start over". If they were only VG Flagship, there no longer are any assigned reps. If you are paying for advice, I suspect that person can continue to provide investment advice ,but only after the specialist completes the transfer. Perhaps that is what was meant and she misunderstood?

If you call on her behalf, they may not help you without her consent. Again, this is standard practice. Get together with your mother prior to the phone call. They will ask to speak directly with her alone and ask her for security info - to make certain it is her. Then she will need to agree to allow you to help on her behalf. Then they will probably ask for your security info. It is best to get the VG form that allows you complete account access and the ability to move funds. That will have to be notarized. It all takes time.

Good luck . . .
This ^^^
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Sheepdog » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:46 am

Excuse me for hijacking this thread, but it is within the subject, I think. I can imagine the issues my wife will run into if I (age 86) die today. She (age 79) has not and will not use a computer so everything must be done by telephone. Warning her about not being up to date on electronics does no good. (And we don't have any family members withing hundreds of miles.)
I have not needed or wanted a PAS, but I am thinking we should. Would an assigned PAS help her though? (We are not Flagship so we would pay that PAS fee.) It wouldn't hurt, but would it help, especially if the PAS changes often? This conversation makes me wonder.
Last edited by Sheepdog on Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:52 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:47 am

Colleagues, I agree that Vanguard’s process was both safe and rational and that their transition team representative kind.

My sole complaint was with their execution of their process: Whereas other firms had POD assets transferred within two or three business days after receipt of paperwork and death certificate, Vanguard estimated three weeks and actually took nearly eight. They were apologetic about how busy they were, but I’m grateful that none of the beneficiaries needed quicker assets to those funds.

In my case, there were only two close family member beneficiaries with no trusts or probate or other complications — perfectly straightforward POD transfers as my Dad intended. Vanguard was simply under-staffed to be able to follow their own process as quickly as their competitors or as they themselves led us to expect. The paperwork they sent was straightforward, and they accepted it without complaint. They were simply slow processing it.

Waiting the additional weeks for the transfers to go through cause no lasting harm, but the inconvenience was unwelcome at a stressful time. I’m glad that other BH received more efficient service in similar circumstances, and I hope that eucalyptus’s family does too.

Andy.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by PhilosophyAndrew » Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:57 am

Sheepdog, in our case, I contacted them by phone, after which they overnighted partially-filled-in paperwork which I overnighted back.

Securing their required Medallion guarantee required a trip to my local bank and was made easier by a long-standing relationship with them. But this only required a 15 minute meeting with a bank VP.

Nothing electric was required, and of course you can’t even log on to the account after the death is reported and they freeze all accounts.

Before reporting the death. I logged into all accounts and printed out reports of all holdings and their the -current valuation. This was useful, but unnecessary.

I don’t think being enrolled in PAS would help with the initial reporting and transfer process, but it may of course be useful to your wife after you die.

Andy.

Sheepdog wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:46 am
Excuse me for hijacking this thread, but it is within the subject, I think. I can imagine the issues my wife will run into if I (age 86) die today. She (age 79) has not and will not use a computer so everything must be done by telephone. Warning her about not being up to date on electronics does no good.

I have not needed or wanted a PAS, but I am thinking we should. Would an assigned PAS help her though? (We are not Flagship so we would pay that PAS fee.) It wouldn't hurt, but would it help, especially if the PAS changes often? This conversation makes me wonder.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by Sheepdog » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:03 am

PhilosophyAndrew wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:57 am
Sheepdog, in our case, I contacted them by phone, after which they overnighted partially-filled-in paperwork which I overnighted back.

Securing their required Medallion guarantee required a trip to my local bank and was made easier by a long-standing relationship with them. But this only required a 15 minute meeting with a bank VP.

Nothing electric was required, and of course you can’t even log on to the account after the death is reported and they freeze all accounts.
Thank you, Andy.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by cherijoh » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:16 am

BarbBrooklyn wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:23 am
Eucalyptus; I'm so sorry for your very recent loss.

If your mom is in her mid 80s, even if you and everyone else would describe her as "sharp as a tack" please proceed with caution.

My mom was precisely this age when I sat with her during hospital discharge procedures. The nurse explained very clearly that my mom needed to see her PCP as soon as possible after discharge to prevent readmission for the same condition', because new Medicare regs had gone into effect which would result in the hospital not getting paid for readmission within 30 days. It was crystal clear to me.

My mom's eyes filled with tears and she said "you mean I can never come back to this hospital?"

Please give the Vanguard folks a chance to explain what their procedure is. Hugs to your mom.
+1

I understand the OP's mother's need to restore some degree of normalcy, but this is not something she ought to try and tackle on her own and so soon.

My mom was widowed at age 69 and she was as sharp as a tack. But she still wasn't up to dealing with this stuff. I contacted all the mutual fund companies where my parents had accounts (including Vanguard) explained that my father had died and asked about forms and procedures for transferring the joint accounts into my mom's name only. I don't think any of the companies insisted on talking to my mom directly - I just had to verify account numbers, SSN, etc. As others have pointed out certified death certificates were required in each case along with some form of paperwork some of which IIRC may have required signature guarantees,

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:17 am

Sheepdog wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:46 am
Excuse me for hijacking this thread, but it is within the subject, I think. I can imagine the issues my wife will run into if I (age 86) die today. She (age 79) has not and will not use a computer so everything must be done by telephone. Warning her about not being up to date on electronics does no good. (And we don't have any family members withing hundreds of miles.)
I have not needed or wanted a PAS, but I am thinking we should. Would an assigned PAS help her though? (We are not Flagship so we would pay that PAS fee.) It wouldn't hurt, but would it help, especially if the PAS changes often? This conversation makes me wonder.
No.

What would be helpful to your wife is taking the following steps:

1) Setup a "Trusted Contact" on your joint account (and any individual account) which allows Vanguard to contact that person IF they suspect a problem, such as dementia.

2) Setup one or more of your children with Full Agent Authorization on the the same accounts. That way, should you pass, your child(ren) can get on the phone with your wife and walk through the steps.

3) Make sure your wife knows a) where to fax things (bank may be free) and b) where to obtain a notary signature (bank may be free) or medallion signature.

4) Write down all your account information, including answers to identity questions that your wife may need. Store them in a secure place AND provide them to your child(ren). You do NOT need to provide your password. I mention the questions because I for one don't answer them with the common answer that anyone can either lookup (maiden name of mother) or steal from institution A in a hack and use 20 other places.

5) Keep an emergency fund available, including several months in a bank savings account (such as Ally), that your wife can access instead of selling securities.

After you pass, your wife and your child(ren) can figure out if they need PAS.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:26 am

BarbBrooklyn wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:23 am
My mom was precisely this age when I sat with her during hospital discharge procedures. The nurse explained very clearly that my mom needed to see her PCP as soon as possible after discharge to prevent readmission for the same condition', because new Medicare regs had gone into effect which would result in the hospital not getting paid for readmission within 30 days. It was crystal clear to me.

My mom's eyes filled with tears and she said "you mean I can never come back to this hospital?"
I can't agree more.

My in-laws went to their bank one day and changed the type of accounts they held (not account numbers, just account types). Since I did their banking for them (except for getting cash, which they did), I didn't notice until I logged on weeks later and saw the account types had changed. I contacted the bank manager and she could not explain it, except to say it didn't make sense. I asked my in-laws why they did it, and they denied doing it. On our next visit, I found in their house forms with their signatures on them. They stared at the forms, and denied signing them.

The bank manager change all accounts back, and made a note on the accounts to never change them, as they were grandfathered in to these types of accounts.

Now add the stress of losing a spouse. Do not let your elderly surviving parent do any of this type of high stress stuff without you on the phone (or side by side) with them for every step of the process.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by fru-gal » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:32 am

BarbBrooklyn wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:23 am
Eucalyptus; I'm so sorry for your very recent loss.

If your mom is in her mid 80s, even if you and everyone else would describe her as "sharp as a tack" please proceed with caution.

My mom was precisely this age when I sat with her during hospital discharge procedures. The nurse explained very clearly that my mom needed to see her PCP as soon as possible after discharge to prevent readmission for the same condition', because new Medicare regs had gone into effect which would result in the hospital not getting paid for readmission within 30 days. It was crystal clear to me.

My mom's eyes filled with tears and she said "you mean I can never come back to this hospital?"

Please give the Vanguard folks a chance to explain what their procedure is. Hugs to your mom.
I can understand why your Mom thought that. The logic leap from the hospital not being paid is...the hospital wouldn't accept her as a patient. But then I'm in my seventies, so maybe my brain is not up to snuff...

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by PoundCake » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:44 am

I dealt with Vanguard's life events/transition team after my mother's death. I am a long-time Vanguard customer, as was my mother, and I have an advisor there.

There were some critical fumbles by this team, and I've posted about these fumbles elsewhere.

But relevant to the original post, the events/transition team is separate and distinct from the personal advisors -- or they were in 2016/2017. They are different departments and they don't interact or speak to one another. I have no idea if that's just the way Vanguard is structured or there is some legal reason for the separation, but that's how it is. I didn't find it helpful, and I feel for the OP's mother.

While I was able to get my advisor involved on a limited basis after the events/transition team screwed up one thing particularly badly, that was also after I cold-called someone higher in the food chain and made a lot of noise. But even then, I was repeatedly told that these were separate entities and that Vanguard was making an exception, etc.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by RickBoglehead » Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:52 am

fru-gal wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 6:32 am
BarbBrooklyn wrote:
Wed Sep 11, 2019 3:23 am
Eucalyptus; I'm so sorry for your very recent loss.

If your mom is in her mid 80s, even if you and everyone else would describe her as "sharp as a tack" please proceed with caution.

My mom was precisely this age when I sat with her during hospital discharge procedures. The nurse explained very clearly that my mom needed to see her PCP as soon as possible after discharge to prevent readmission for the same condition', because new Medicare regs had gone into effect which would result in the hospital not getting paid for readmission within 30 days. It was crystal clear to me.

My mom's eyes filled with tears and she said "you mean I can never come back to this hospital?"

Please give the Vanguard folks a chance to explain what their procedure is. Hugs to your mom.
I can understand why your Mom thought that. The logic leap from the hospital not being paid is...the hospital wouldn't accept her as a patient. But then I'm in my seventies, so maybe my brain is not up to snuff...
The logical leap is that the hospital is saying that if we aren't paid by Medicare, we will bill you.
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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by stan1 » Wed Sep 11, 2019 7:09 am

Sorry for your loss. I agree with doing your best to help your mom out. As with other Vanguard customer service they will get the job done but they will do it on their terms and in their bureaucracy rather than in a customized or personal way. Everyone likes low Vanguard expense ratios but they can't provide very low expenses and great customer service at the same time. Seems like some people want very low expenses, good service for themselves, and no service for other people [or haven't thought through what the consequences of low expenses really are]. We've seen this with Advantage accounts and named Flagship reps just within the past few months. Some have gone to Fidelity which at least for now still has plenty of assets invested in 100 basis point plus funds which support a more responsive customer service team.

Spouse is currently working with Merrill Lynch on distributions from his parents estate. FIL had been with his local ML office for decades and had great timing with stock investments from1970s to present even with ML fees. Everything was set up exactly as it should have been for beneficiaries and estate plan and the county actually had the death certificate available within a few days, but process at ML will take up to 2 months because they basically have no automation or centralization and the very nice and helpful lady who sets up the new accounts has plenty of other client facing work to do at the same time. She has to manually move securities and set cost basis. My point: even if you are paying 150 basis points per year for customer service it can take a long time.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by changingtimes » Wed Sep 11, 2019 8:31 am

I went through this two years ago when DH died (I was 50 at the time). He had a personal IRA (he was 55), his 401k was at Vanguard, and we had three brokerage accounts where we were joint owners (technically one was his, one was mine, and one was ours, but we put each other on all). I don't remember having any problems, but some of it might have been because we both worked at the same company and so Megacorp's benefits people were incredibly helpful and I think they actually made the initial notification to Vanguard.

I remember getting a lot of forms to fill out, but didn't have any issues at all with Vanguard, and never lost access to the three jointly held accounts. I think I got the 401k into an inherited IRA within 6 weeks.

I will grant that I used the estate process as something to focus very intently on, so I could have a little bit of a respite from the smoking blast crater of my life. And I had been the one who handled the move of our brokerage accounts to Vanguard two years earlier (along with the bulk of our estate planning), so I was very familiar with Vanguard beyond just the 401k side of things.

I agree with people who have said that for someone a little older, having another set of ears to hear what is actually being said is a very good idea. I know my mind did some wacky things in those early months.

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Re: Vanguard Insane (?) Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by eucalyptus » Wed Sep 11, 2019 9:29 am

Thank you for all of your kind expressions of sympathy, generous words of advice and shared stories. I read many of your stories to my mother, who now understands that her situation is not at all unusual. There is a tremendous wealth of experience and wisdom in your posts.

To answer a few questions:

- I have, or I guess until my father’s death had, Full Agent Authorization for my parents' Vanguard accounts.

- My Dad keep detailed records of passwords, account numbers, organised files of statements, records going way back about his pension and other financial issues.

- My mother has not yet provided a certified death certificate to Vanguard, but has a pile (15) of them ready - even Comcast wants one.

- I’ve been visiting my mother, who lives in a different state, every three weeks to accompany her to her chemo treatments. I’ll be with her next week to help sort through this and other chores.



I was angry when I made my original post. Prokofiev, above, asked for clarification, for reasons I understand perfectly: but yes, my mother, who is paying for Vanguard’s advisory service, was told that her assets (including jointly and separately held funds) were no longer being managed. She was even presented a bill for services through the date of my father’s death. I could not understand why Vanguard would remove its advisor at the exact moment the client most needed advice. If you contract to help someone with such an important matter, how can you automatically quit just when you are needed? Incredible. It reminded me of the old adage about a bank lender being like someone who lends you an umbrella when the sun is shining and asks for it back when it begins to rain. My Mom’s questions involved such very basic matters as “how does money get into my settlement account?” She had a particularly infuriating exchange with the transition team, who asked whether she wanted to reinvest dividends. She told them, “How did my husband have it set up? That’s what I want to do.” They said they couldn’t tell her how my father had set things up.

I respectfully stand by my use of the word "insane" in the post's title. My father would have been livid had he known that, on his death, my mother would be fired as a client and handed a bill. You may prefer "cruel," "disrespectful" or some other refuge in the thesaurus.

It's not only Vanguard, of course. Another fund family, call them The Ridiculous People, told my mother “if in fact you are the beneficiary, your claim will be processed."



Anyway, there's a very happy update this morning: my mother’s now former PAS advisor called her to volunteer to help her, to the extent he can. This is great news; I have spoken several times with this advisor, and he has seemed patient, sharp and well-intentioned. Much gratitude and credit to this young guy. I also am hopeful that the transition team will begin to take a more proactive, helpful role in this process.



Perhaps the actionable (a popular word here, perhaps?) lesson of this life episode and thread is: if you are a conscientious spouse/so/head of household who exclusively handles investments, an important part of all your preparation is to give your beneficiaries some idea of what will happen to your individual and joint investments during a possibly debilitating final illness, and then after your death. I’m going to go through this thread with my wife.

The chief difficulty in the final illness phase is handling the administration of your partner’s healthcare. It’s a full-time job. Even if you have 24-7 care, the quality of care must be monitored, appointments (and transport) scheduled, decisions made by caregivers must be reviewed and all of the insurance sources - long term care, Medicare, supplemental - need attention. It can be daunting, especially if, as in my mother’s case, you also have a significant health issue (lymphoma). The expenses will be alarming.

My Dad did what he thought was his best. He and my Mom had wills. He kept their financial life simple and well organised: they invested with Vanguard and two other national mutual fund companies, the largest share in Vanguard. Some jointly held US savings bonds. A pension (remember those?) from a Fortune 100 company. My mother was the 100% beneficiary of my Dad's IRAs and joint owner of everything else, from their home to their car. They lived well within their means. Perhaps some of you have parents who are Depression babies.

My Mom has a college degree in journalism but is interested in things cultural - history, art, opera, etc - and has not handled investments for several decades. She now regrets her lack of attention to finance.



There's some hard, valuable advice in your posts. Here are just a few examples:

dbr: Seamless and avoiding probate and not looking at a will does not mean instant or without procedure … Also don't forget that power of attorney expires on death of the principal.

nix4me: Vanguard will refuse to even speak with you. Not on the account they will verbally tell you they will not speak with you. I tried to help clarify a problem when setting up my 18 year old daughter's brokerage account and the guy told me that he would not talk to me and to take him off speaker so he could speak to her alone.

RickBoglehead (with a similar caution from BarbBrooklyn): Also, in my experience, the elderly often misunderstand, especially in times of stress.

RickBoglehead: I am saying that since joint account will be frozen for a short period. IF surviving spouse will be needing funds for that short period, remove them from the joint account prior to advising Vanguard of the passing, or you will be SOL.

gooodenyou: Vanguard goes into a seizure until they can make doubly sure that all ducks are in a row with asset transfers

dodecahedron: after my late husband´s death, I had a very good transition experience with Vanguard but a dreadful one with Fidelity. However, I have to say that Schwab was the easiest and smoothest of all. Interactive Brokers was terrible. TIAA was mixed. As far as banks go, Ally was pretty good but my local Bank of America (where we had our checking and safe deposit account and where my husband had a business account which had also handled the payroll for the business and where I set up the temporary estate account in my capacity as executor) was awesome.

cherijoh: My mom was widowed at age 69 and she was as sharp as a tack. But she still wasn't up to dealing with this stuff.

PoundCake: While I was able to get my advisor involved on a limited basis after the events/transition team screwed up one thing particularly badly, that was also after I cold-called someone higher in the food chain and made a lot of noise. But even then, I was repeatedly told that these were separate entities and that Vanguard was making an exception, etc.

stan1: My point: even if you are paying 150 basis points per year for customer service it can take a long time.



Again, I appreciate and read each and every reply.

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Re: [Frustrated with Vanguard advisory service] Procedures on Death of a Spouse

Post by LadyGeek » Wed Sep 11, 2019 11:00 am

This thread is now in the Personal Finance (Not Investing) (estate probate). I retitled the thread for clarity.

Sorry for your loss. My father passed away several years ago and I had to provide a death certificate to Vanguard.

You can find additional tips in the wiki: Estate planning Please review the threads in the "Further reading" section.
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